People are losing their patience and the numbers are improving, which means New York City will soon begin re-opening in stages – if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. During this time, profes­sional drivers willing to brave the pan­demic will be an important part of getting the city moving again.

Although business has been down by upwards of 90%, that’s very likely going to change fairly rapidly, and it’s essential that drivers protect themselves and their passengers from COVID-19. That means keeping your hands clean, disinfecting your vehicle between every client and wearing a mask while a passenger is in the car (your passengers should be wear­ing them, too).

It also means monitoring your own health. If you have any symptoms, stop working immediately and consider reaching out to a medical professional. For drivers who participate in the New York Black Car Fund (BCF), you have a FREE telemedicine benefit provided through Drivers Benefits, which you can activate by visiting https://driversbenefits.org/activate-now/?utm_source=WB&utm_medium=Telemed.

As an additional safety measure, a lot of drivers are installing partitions in their vehicles. According to NYC’s Taxi & Lim­ousine Commission (TLC), “During the COVID-19 pandemic… all vehicles with­out partitions [have] the opportunity to have temporary partitions installed by approved partition installers. Tradition­ally, partitions have had to meet the tech­nical requirements contained in the TLC’s rules. However, the TLC is tem­porarily easing restrictions to allow non-bulletproof partitions to be installed by approved installers.”

The TLC has even provided a list of approved partition installers, which can be viewed here.

Unfortunately, according to reports, a high percentage of the installers listed are either out of business or so booked up they aren’t accepting new appointments for weeks at a time. The TLC recom­mends contacting approved installers in advance, rather than just showing up at their place of business, only to have wasted your time. It’s also not a bad idea to shop around and compare products and prices. They apparently range in price from about $100-400, depending on the quality of the partition and the expertise of the installers.

If this is something you are consider­ing, I would highly recommend booking an appointment ASAP.

“Before the pandemic our primary customers were special needs transporta­tion companies, but now drivers from every segment of the industry are using partitions to stay safe,” explains Richard Davis, owner of Rideshare Safety Parti­tion. “We’ve been selling our universal, self-installable partitions since 2015, but as you can imagine, sales have really in­creased in the past few months.”

To their credit, the TLC is approving and adding new installers to the list, which is no easy process. And while I’m on the subject of giving credit where it is due, I would like to again commend the TLC and its new Commissioner/Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, as well as New York’s City Council, for establishing the TLC Driver Resource Center. The TLC Resource Center offers a wide range of services, “to all TLC-licensed drivers and medallion owner-drivers,” including legal services, financial counseling, health and mental health referrals, and public benefits application support. Learn more at:  https://portal.driverresourcecenter.tlc.nyc.gov.

The Black Car Fund also recently added a new section to its website, which provides information and valuable financial, safety, health and food assistance tips for drivers as they go about helping the city get back on its feet. Find out more at: https://www.nybcf.org/covid19.

Best wishes to everyone. Stay healthy and safe!

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Article by Neil Weiss

Neil Weiss is the Editor/Publisher/Owner of Black Car News and Livery Times. He has been involved in the ground transportation industry since 1991, writing thousands of articles on a wide variety of subjects.

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